Lots of people around the world have experienced great success playing real money card games over the internet. Online poker players rake in colossal tournament prizes every week, and online casino jackpots are struck on a pretty regular basis. But narrow the playing field to New Jersey, where a legally regulated iGaming market has only been established for about 15 months, and enormous prizes don’t make the headlines nearly so often.

New Jersey online gamblers dealt $1.5mm royal flushNow, the Garden State is abuzz with the news that one of their own—an online gambler from Union County—has struck it rich. The lucky player, who has chosen to maintain his anonymity, was playing a popular game known as Let It Ride at BetfairCasino.com when a monumental payout of $1.5 million occurred.

It was February 14th, Valentine’s Day, when the online gambler from Union County made three huge bets that will change his life forever. Let It Ride is like an online poker game, but the player is not competing against any other players. Instead, their goal is to try and achieve the best possible 5-card poker hand. The higher the hand ranks, the higher the payout grows.

Let It Ride consists of three betting rounds. The player makes an initial bet before receiving the first 3 cards. There are then two more betting rounds, one prior to being dealt each of the last two cards. There’s also an optional side bet called 3-Card Bonus that can be placed before the hand starts.

According to Betfair Casino, the lucky New Jersey man bet $500 on each betting round, and another $500 on the side bet. By the time all the cards fell, he found himself holding the most improbable poker hand of all – the Royal Flush – which pays 1000-to-1 on each of the hand’s bets, plus 40-to-1 on side bets.

Get your calculators out ladies and gentlemen and you’ll find that the grand total for all those perfectly timed bets is a whopping $1,522,000.

Online Gambler “Shocked” by Royal Flush Win

When asked about how the life-altering win came about, the online gambler responded. “I first heard of BetfairCasino.com on a television commercial where they were offering a generous bonus for first time sign ups.” He then told the events of that fateful evening.

“I was playing one night for about two hours . . . and I was ready to end my night of play and I was dealt Queen, Jack, and 10 of Diamonds. Great! I have a mini straight flush! To my amazement I was dealt the King and Ace of Diamonds! A Royal Flush! Really! I was in total shock! Not my first royal either and yes, still in shock! Then I realized it was a $1,522,000 payout! NOW I WAS IN SHOCK! I thought it was a dream!” he exclaimed. “This is why I love playing and will only be playing on BetfairCasino.com because the site lets you play and in turn gives you a fair chance to win!”

“It’s always exciting when a player hits a big win,” expressed Don Ryan, the General Manager for BetfairCasino.com in New Jersey. “We’re thrilled to be a part of U.S. online gaming history and to be able to provide generous bonuses, high payouts, and a secure and fair online gaming experience to our BetfairCasino.com players in New Jersey for years to come.”

Prior to that massive 7-figure win, the largest single payout to any New Jersey online gambler was $1,334,641.22. That enormous prize was delivered to Cathy Ruela of Morris Plains, NJ while she was playing the Millionaire Genie progressive slot at HarrahsCasino.com on November 6, 2014.


Acquisitions and mergers have been the name of the game across the global online gambling industry for the last few years. Last year, Amaya Gaming spent $4.9 billion to take over PokerStars parent company, Rational Group. For $6.4 billion, International Games Technology is about to merge with GTECH SpA. Now it appears that online gambling giant 888 Holdings is entertaining a takeover bid by the UK’s largest bookmaker, William Hill.

The story first broke this morning when The Times reported that William Hill is in “advanced talks” with 888 over a bid to acquire the Gibraltar-based online gambling firm. The report indicated that Will Hill was offering 210 pence per share, amounting to approximately £750 million (USD $1.14 billion).

Will Hill talks acquisition with online gambling giant 888 HoldingsAfter the report was published, 888 Holdings released a statement confirming talks with the UK-based bookmaker. “The board of the company confirms that it received an approach regarding a possible offer for the company by William Hill,” read the statement from 888. “There can be no certainty, however, that any firm offer will be made.”

If Will Hill were to take over 888 Holdings, it would give the company a leg in the US online gaming market as well. 888 is already licensed to operate online poker rooms in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, with online casino operations in the latter two states.

Immediately following the announcement, shares in 888 Holdings began to skyrocket. The stock price had jumped to 175.00 pence by 3:00pm GMT, closing at 171.50 for an overall jump of +18.28% by end of trading day. In contrast, shares in William Hill fell -3.13%, closing at 377.40.

According to industry analysts, striking a deal between the two live and online gambling companies will be easier said than down. It’s been speculated that the founders of 888, believed to be the Israeli Shaked family, want the bid increased to as high as 300p/share (£1.07 billion; or USD $1.64 billion). That rumor seems to stem from previous takeover talks in 2011 between 888 and Ladbrokes that fell through when the two couldn’t agree on a mutually affable purchase price.

Karl Burns of Panmure Gordon said the 210p/share bid was already a bit on the pricey side, and that he does not expect Will Hill to increase its offer. “I think there is a good chance that the deal may not go through,” said Burns, adding that it could “stretch [William Hill’s] balance sheet to a degree that they may have to raise capital as well.”

While acquisitions have become a lot more commonplace in the live and online gambling industry since 2010, they have clearly escalated more so over the last year. One dominant factor attributing to online gambling buyouts is the increased regulation and taxation of the industry throughout certain regions.

The UK in particular has become an expensive region for online poker, casino and sports betting operators. A new regulatory framework came into force late last year – one that William Hill was prepared to fight when it was first proposed in 2012 – in which tax havens like 888’s home base in Gibraltar are no longer cost-efficient for operators who accept UK players. Those operators must obtain a UK license and pay a 15% POC tax, greatly increasing their bottom line.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has been backing a bill that would incite a blanket ban of online gambling in the US, titled Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA). With billions behind it and not much distinguishable opposition ahead, many feared the lame duck legislative session would be an easy catalyst for Adelson to get his bill through Congress. As the hour draws nigh, however, it seems there’s a lot more resistance in the undercurrent than the anti-online gambling bill’s supporters first realized.

On Thursday, a letter was authored to the four most influential members of Congress; The U.S. Senates’  Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps more impressive than the heading, in quantity and quality, were the signatures upon the communique, which included Presidents, Executive Directors and Honorary Chairman’s for 12 powerful conservative organizations.

We write to inform you of our strong concerns about S.2159, Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and its companion House legislation H.R. 4301, both known as RAWA,” the letter begins.

While RAWA supporters contend that this legislation is a simple fix to 53 year old Wire Act legislation on sports betting, RAWA attempts to apply federal sports betting regulations to online gambling – even though this legislation was created decades before the invention of the internet.

The conservatives went on to clarify that “states have always led the way in regulating gambling and that is why a diverse coalition of organizations including the Democratic Governors Association, National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and numerous civil libertarian, free market and conservative groups have already spoken out against this legislation.

Regardless of your personal opinions on gambling, we encourage you to preserve the authority of the states to prohibit or regulate gambling as the 10th Amendment directs.

The letter called RAWA “an assault on our Federalist system,” arguing that New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators are “considering resolutions to Congress to ask you to vote against such legislation.

After citing original debates leading to the US Department of Justice’s evaluation of the Wire Act in 2011 that resulted in intrastate online gambling becoming a viable regulatory avenue for individual states, authors closed the document with the following appeal.

The real intention of this bill is to remove the state’s 10th Amendment authority to regulate online gambling as states see fit within their own borders. We hope you will not allow RAWA to become yet another instance where the federal government expands its encroachment into the states’ purview. State governments are more than capable of making this decision.

Signatures on the oppositional letter included:

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Larry Hart
Director of Government Relations
American Conservative Union
Steve Pociask
American Consumer Institute
John Tate
Campaign for Liberty
Lawson Bader
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Andrew Langer
Institute for Liberty
Gov. Gary Johnson
Honorary Chairman
Our America Initiative
David Williams
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty
Jeff Mazzella
Center for Individual Freedom
Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation
Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity


It’s becoming clear now that RAWA, and its billionaire backer, Sheldon Adelson, face a lot more hostility than once believed in terms of filtering RAWA through a fiscally-empathetic lame duck session. Now, with the public eye narrowly trained on the issue, it’s doubtful the anti-online gambling bill will see the light of day before the 2015 legislative session reconvenes, and harvesting support won’t be so easy then either.